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"Do You Know Him Like He Knows You?

By Valerie F. Leonard
Presented to the New Evangelical Bible Church
Sunday, March 26, 2017

Good morning, to Pastor Willie Sams, and First Lady Wren Sams, ministerial staff, Rev. Rosie
Dixon, Women's Pastor; Sister Sharon Perkins the Women's Conference Committee, my good
friend Evelyn Ross, family and friends. I bring you greetings from Carey Tercentenary AME
Church, where Rev. Walter C. Harris is Pastor.

I would like to thank my family, friends and members of Carey Tercentenary who have come
out. Would you please stand. I'd like to especially like to acknowledge my mom, Essie Leonard.
But for the Grace of God and her, I don't know where I'd be. (Acknowledge my family and
friends) A special thanks to my friend, David Pendleton, for being a sounding board as I fleshed
out ideas to share today.

Before I get started, I'd like to warn you, that I am not an evangelist, ordained minister,
missionary, or part of any organized ministry. Although I have grown up in the church, taking
an active role in a number of activities, I am a temporary bench warmer at this point, waiting for
my next assignment. If there are any complaints about what you hear today, take them up with
Evelyn. She is the one who insisted that the ladies invite me today. They went out on a limb and
agreed. I am deeply honored, and it is my sincere prayer that GOD is glorified in the message
that I share.

Today's theme, as you know, is, "Do You Know Him Like He Knows You?" The text is
Jeremiah 1: 5. I would like to read Jeremiah 1:4-10, for context, and provide some background
on the main text. I will then share my message.
Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I
sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.
Then said I, Ah, Lord GOD! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child.
But the LORD said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee,
and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak.
Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the LORD.
Then the LORD put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the LORD said unto me, Behold,
I have put my words in thy mouth.
See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull
down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers tells us that when GOD told Jeremiah that "I knew
thee" in Verse 5, He was not using a round about way of saying that He knew Jeremiah way
before he was born, but He also approved Jeremiah.

He sanctified Jeremiah, or set him apart for a special purpose that only Jermiah could fulfill. He
Ordained, or appointed Jeremiah to do a special work, which was to speak to the nations. We are
all ordained to do a special work, regardless of who we are or what we do. More often than not,
this work is a collection of assignments that help us fulfill our purpose.

I was interested in learning more about the background on these 10 verses so I looked at
Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary.

1:1-10 Jeremiah's early call to the work and office of a prophet is stated. He was to be a prophet,
not to the Jews only, but to the neighbouring nations. He is still a prophet to the whole world,
and it would be well if they would attend to these warnings. The Lord who formed us, knows for
what particular services and purposes he intended us. But unless he sanctify us by his new-
creating Spirit, we shall neither be fit for his holy service on earth, nor his holy happiness in
heaven. It becomes us to have low thoughts of ourselves. Those who are young, should consider
that they are so, and not venture beyond their powers. But though a sense of our own weakness
and insufficiency should make us go humbly about our work, it should not make us draw back
when God calls us. Those who have messages to deliver from God, must not fear the face of
man. The Lord, by a sign, gave Jeremiah such a gift as was necessary. God's message should be
delivered in his own words. Whatever wordly wise men or politicians may think, the safety of
kingdoms is decided according to the purpose and word of God.

I thought that commentary was very fitting as I prepared for today. When Evelyn asked me to
bring the message, my first response was one of reluctance. I didn't feel qualified then, nor do I
feel qualified now to stand before you on a Sunday morning. I am not one who stands up giving
personal testimonies in church. I am much more comfortable writing my reflections in my prayer
journal, and now, developing the boldness to share, little by little on Facebook.
When I told Evelyn that I felt ill-prepared, she said, "You'll do fine. I've been reading what you
write on Facebook, and I know you can do it. I wanted to be obedient, so, here I am. I'm not
young, nor am I a prophet, but I can definitely relate to fear of stony faces that Jeremiah feared.
In fact, in my life as a community activist and consultant to nonprofits, I have faced many a
stony face as I have fought for social justice, so I get it.
As I talked to Sister Sharon Perkins in preparation for today, I asked her, why was the text
selected. She indicated that Rev. Rosie Dixon', who selected the text made an observation,
"...people are always talking about how GOD knew us before we were born. I wonder how
many of us really know Him, even now?"
The Bible is full of instances of people getting to know GOD intimately. Joseph, Jacob's favorite
child got to know GOD very well after his brothers sold him into slavery in Egypt. The time he
spent with GOD turned his natural self-confidence into confidence in GOD. As a result, GOD
favored Joseph and caused everything he did to prosper. Joseph worked for Potiphar, and
Potiphar noticed that his household was favored because of Joseph. As a result, Potiphar

promoted Joseph to the head of his household. When Joseph was thrown in jail because he was
falsely accused of making sexual advances towards Potiphar's wife, GOD's favor was still with
Joseph. When Joseph was in jail, the jail guard put him in a leadership position. GOD
sharpened Joseph's insights to a point where not only did he have big dreams, Joseph interpreted
dreams and could solve problems. It was his interpretation of the king's dream and plan for the
nation that set him free from jail and led to his promotion to the second highest position in
Egypt. When Joseph encountered his brothers again, he was able to save them from famine and
relocate the family to Goshen, just outside of Egypt. Joseph's slavery, which was intended to
break him, was the thing that made him. Not only did it make him, but it created the pathway
through which Joseph was able to eventually save Egypt, and the entire region, from starvation.
Joseph's relationship with GOD saved Egypt, and Israel as well. This goes to show that our
relationships with GOD can save us, our families and our enemies.
Four hundred years later, Moses encountered GOD through a burning bush. GOD called Moses
to deliver the Israelites from Egypt. Moses was reluctant and felt inadequate for the task because
of his speech impediment. After reassuring Moses that He was with him, GOD used his brother
Aaron to be a spokesperson, while GOD Himself spoke directly with Moses. By the time Moses
led the Israelites out of Egypt and shared the Ten Commandments, he had a relationship with
GOD that was so close that he was called a friend of GOD. GOD allowed Moses to see his back
side, and he lived to tell about it. Moses' encounter with GOD was so strong that the glory of
GOD was on Moses' face after he received the 10 Commandments from GOD. Moses' face was
so bright that had to put a veil on his face so the people could look at him. He removed the veil
when he was in the presence of GOD. This is a reminder that nothing should stand between GOD
and us when we approach Him.
Rahab was a prostitute in Jericho. Her encounter with GOD came through hearing about the
victories that GOD had given the Israelites as they begin to possess the land that GOD had
promised them. She knew the hand of the LORD was with Israel, and they were going to take
Jericho. Rahab hid the Israeli spies when they went to scope out the city, and asked them to
remember her and her family when they came back. The spies kept their promise, and Rahab
and her family were spared. Rahab is in the lineage of Jesus.
Ruth was a Moabite woman who married into Naomi's family. Naomi was originally from
Bethlehem and had moved to Moab, along with her two sons to escape a famine. While she was
in Moab, both her sons died. One daughter in law went back to her family, while Ruth stayed
with Naomi, and went back to Bethlehem to be with her. She told Naomi that her GOD would
be her GOD, and she helped to take care of her. Ruth's relationship with GOD was strengthened
through the influence of her mother-in Law Naomi. Because she was faithful, she found favor in
the eyes of Boaz, who eventually married her. Ruth also was part of the lineage of Jesus. Our
intimate relationships with GOD puts us in the lineage of Jesus, as well.
Hannah's relationship with GOD was so strong that GOD allowed her to have Samuel, even
though she was unable to have children in the past. Because she gave Samuel to the LORD,
GOD blessed her with even more children. If we trust GOD with the little that we have, he will
surely give us more. And this comes about only through relationship and knowing GOD

Daniel's relationship with GOD was so strong, he prayed to GOD in front of an open window
three times a day in a country where it was the law to bow down before the king. Daniel's
opponents manipulated a situation where the king passed a law that anyone worshipping any
other god would be put to death. Daniel was arrested and thrown in the lion's den. The lions did
not touch Daniel. Daniel's enemies and their families were thrown in the lion's den and were
consumed before they hit the bottom of the den.
The woman with an issue of blood touched the hem of Jesus' garment and was made whole.
Jesus resurrected Lazarus after he was dead. Our relationships with Jesus can cause us to live
The woman at the well who had several husbands and was living with a man that wasn't her
husband, met Jesus at the well. As a result of a conversation in which Jesus showed that He
knew her, the woman was forever changed, and went to tell others. Our relationship with Jesus
will cause us to lose our shame and become bold for Christ.
The dying thief asked Jesus if he could be with Him in paradise, and Jesus said yes. That single
encounter, though very brief, caused the dying thief to repent and have everlasting life.
Mary Magdeline was delivered from 7 devils, became a follower of Jesus, and was one of the
first to see Jesus when He arose from the dead.
Saul knew the LORD in a very legalistic, intellectual way. His intellectual knowledge of GOD
fed his zeal to kill Christians to protect the religious establishment. Saul had an encounter with
Jesus on his way to Damascus to go and persecute some more Christians. As a result of that
encounter and ensuing relationship, Saul's zeal for religiosity turned to a zeal for Christ, and he
was a major contributor to the writing of the New Testament. When we truly know GOD, He
will take the worst of us to make it the best of us, for His purposes.
The common thread in all these stories is, each person who had an encounter with GOD was
never the same afterwards. The same is true for each of us. If GOD can deliver prostitutes,
thieves, whores and religious zealots, truly, He can deliver us.
My own recent experiences have drawn me closer to GOD. Or shall I say, GOD has used my
circumstances to draw me closer to Him. After all, He knew me before I was born, and knew the
problems I would encounter along the way. He has also provided me with solutions and
deliverance along the way, and I thank Him for that.
God put it on my heart to lead a community planning process for North Lawndale back in 2005.
The opportunity came in 2015. It seemed as if the time was just right. We had new political
leadership; there was an opportunity to get technical assistance from a regional planning agency
to do the first comprehensive plan for the community since 1958. Community stakeholders,
including elected officials, organizational leaders, business owners and community residents
were all on board. We made great strides for the 19 months I was there. I helped to raise money,
and played a very key role in putting all the systems in place, developing a website, community
outreach et cetera. The things we accomplished were all done by volunteers. We were told by a
representative of the group that eventually funded us that our new group was further along than

the other groups he was already working with that had funding. I knew that we were only able to
achieve what we did achieve because GOD's hand was on our work.
I had financial hardship and had to leave the group. One of the most traumatic experiences was
the fact that when funding eventually came through to hire someone to be the legs on the project,
the group that I assembled hired someone else and didn't even bother to call me for an interview.
It didn't matter that I'd put in over 2,000 hours of my time. They were aware that I left because I
could not afford to continue to work for free. It didn't matter that I was already doing the work
that they are now paying someone else to do. In fact, the scope of what I was doing for free was
greater than what they are paying the person to do. This team, which consisted of people who
profess to know the LORD and the community, was perfectly content to let me starve in spite of
the fact that I set the table and invited them to dinner.
That was one of the darkest moments of my life. It was in these dark moments, that I was closer
to GOD than ever before, and I learned a process for getting to know GOD better. The steps I'm
outlining were the steps I went through in my own situation, but, I think they are general enough
where you can tailor them to your own situation.
1. Seeking Godly Counsel I was so down, I could not think clearly enough to adequately pray
for myself. I talked to people that I knew were firmly rooted in GOD. They gave me objective
insights into the situation, my character, my role in this mess, and suggested next steps, which I
reluctantly followed. I knew they were right, and their advice lined up with the word of GOD.
2. Repentance. I had to repent of the one sin I ever thought I committed in life, LOL. Seriously,
I searched my heart, and confessed of known sins. I asked GOD to reveal other sins that had not
yet come to mind. I repented for the sins. I know there is more work to do, as I have a tendency
to go back.
3. Forgiveness. I had to forgive the people that wronged me, so that GOD would forgive me. It
is not easy, and I have prayed more than once on this topic. I also have prayed to forgive myself
for not making better choices. I will continue to pray until GOD releases it fully.
4. Prayer. I pray constantly about other things, but this situation gets a lot of attention. While I
have confronted this group with my issues, I do constantly pray for them. I pray that GOD
forgives them. I pray that they have good success. I pray for them and their families. I also pray
for myself, that GOD would use this situation for my good. I also pray for my family, friends,
relatives and neighbors, and that GOD would strengthen other areas in which I am deficient.
5. Fasting. I fasted about 3 days when this issue came about. I have also set up a regimen in
which I fast once a week until dinner time. This has increased my clarity, focus and ability to
hear from GOD. This clarity and focus has spilled over into other areas of my life, including the
personal and professional.
6. Reading the Bible. I read my Bible, with a particular focus on those passages that I have
underlined in the past. There are several scriptures in the Book of Isaiah that speak to my current
situation, and provide promise for the future.
7. Journaling. I keep a journal of my prayers, and include the dates so I can go back and see how
GOD has answered my prayers. I can see if I have personally made any progress in terms of my

attitudes, actions and outlook. I can see how GOD is moving in this situation, and others, and I
am very well pleased. There are times that I get discouraged because some things don't seem to
move "fast enough." I have to be patient and wait on GOD's perfect timing.
8. Listening to scriptures. When this situation first started, one of my friends suggested that I
listen to recordings of certain scriptures that address my issues. Listen while I'm working out,
when I have down time, and to let the recordings run while I sleep. I did this, and I has made a
9. Watching videos. I go to YouTube and look at videos of sermons that pertain to my
particular situation. I am careful to listen to those pastors that are strong on Bible teaching and
application, as opposed to flowery, motivational language that makes me feel good but has no
10. Reading books. I have gone back to books I bought long ago relating to discernment, godly
leadership and promotion and understanding how to listen to GOD and get His direction. I'm
currently reading Tony Evan's book on Detours, based on the life of Joseph. He talks about how
GOD can take situations that disappoint us and get us off track to position us for something
better. I strongly recommend this book for anyone.
11. Going to church. There were times that I stayed home from church to have long quiet time
with GOD. Sometimes, that was appropriate. Every now and then, we read how Jesus retreated
from the masses to have time with GOD. However, there were times when I was prompted not
to foresake assembling with the saints, because we can really draw strength from other
Christians. It was during those times that I would press on and goto Church to hear from GOD.
12. Applying the learning to increase my faith. I look at the events that have transpired within
the context of scripture, sermons and religious books. I then take the information and apply it to
my own life, trying to be wiser, increase my discernment and make better decisions.
When I look at my own testimony, I can say that GOD is faithful. As I continue to pray and
meditate this morning, I see where He has followed through on His promises. He promised to
uphold my right hand. (Isaiah 42:13) He is doing that. He promised never to leave me, and He
has not (Hebrews 13:5). He promised to help me, and He is. (also in Isaiah 42:13) He promised
He would do a new thing, and He is doing several new things in me and through me. (Isaiah
43:27). He promised that when I go through the waters, He would be with me, and the waters
would not overflow me, and they have not. (Isaiah 43: 2) He told me when I walk through the
fire, I would not be burned, nor shall the flame kindle upon me. I look back over my life and see
that is true (Isaiah 43:2). He promised to blot out my transgressions and that He would not
remember my sins, and I thank Him for that. (Isaiah 43:25)
GOD has replaced people who drained me with people who sustain me. Where there was lack,
there is provision. Where there was sickness, there is health. Where there was blindness, there is
light. Where there was callousness, there is genuine care and concern. He is here with me,
leading me and guiding me on a wonderful journey. I can't wait to see how life unfolds next.
If I had to share any takeaways from all this, I would say first, "You can win by losing." As a
result of losing out on the project of my dreams, I have become closer to GOD. I have seen
people in their true light, for better or for worse. I am overwhelmed by the outpouring of love

and support from my friends. I have new business opportunities, my internet radio show is
growing and people who are in a position to help me with jobs and new business opportunities
have reached out to me. I'm not rich by any stretch of the imagination, but my cashflow has
increased since that project door was closed.
In closing, I encourage you to review your relationship with GOD and how well you knw Him. I
leave with Isaiah 55: 6 and 7.
6Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:
7Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto
the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
Thank you very much. I now turn the service back over to Pastor Sams.